Nov 06

“Safekeeping” Reading and Safety in Numbers

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Photo by Nile Scott Shots

Photo by Nile Scott Shots.

Presented by The Accessible Theatre
by Rob Zellers
Directed by Adam Sanders

Nov. 3, 2014 at 7:30PM
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Accessible Theatre on Facebook

Disclaimer: This production included Queen Geek, Kitty Drexel in its cast. For this reason, this review is tempered to accommodate the NETG reviewing policy on Geek performance involvement.

Review by Gillian Daniels
(Cambridge, MA) Joe (Felix Teich) is an artist who creates complex dioramas and a loving and temperamental caretaker of his brother, sixteen-year old Robert (Elliott Purcell).  Due to his cerebral palsy, Robert spends his days bound to their run-down apartment, watching soap operas.  The Accessible Theatre brings us a reading of a play about brothers who have built their own world, insulated from the impoverished, drug-addled reality of their Ohio city.  As with many stories, the status quo is disrupted when a woman, social worker Marianne (Rachel Sacks), walks into their lives.  Her intrusion is a benevolent one, however, an attempt to confirm Robert is getting the help he needs.

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Oct 14

Theatre on Fire Ignites IT FELT EMPTY

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Presented by Theatre on Fire
By Lucy Kirkwood
Directed by Maureen Shea

October 10 – November 1, 2014
The Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, MA 02129
Theatre on Fire on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

WARNING: SEXUAL VIOLENCE.

One of the most terrifying things about the circumstances of Dijana (Elizabeth Milanovich) is how convinced she is that she’s in control of them.  Theatre on Fire gives us a chilling story of a woman clinging to her mental well-being by playing a cheerful, even humorous Pollyanna in an unwilling career as a prostitute.  The American premiere of the show gets under one’s skin and stays there, emotionally and sometimes physically moving the audience further into Dijana’s claustrophobic, darkly comic misery. Continue reading

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Oct 01

imaginary beasts Will KNOCK! You Out of Your Comfort Zone

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Photo by Roger Metcalf

Photo by Roger Metcalf

Presented by imaginary beasts
By Daniil Kharms
Directed by Matthew Wood
Dramaturgy by Matthew McMahan

Sept. 26 – Oct. 18, 2014
At the Plaza Black Box Theatre
at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) A joke in the absurdist, Stalin-era work of Daniil Kharms is the same as a violent pratfall: random, shocking in its flippancy, and somehow charming.  The punchlines in Knock! The Daniil Kharms Project involve a man forgetting his name due to a number of bricks dropped on his head or a romantic couple disappearing in the middle of the night by the secret police.  Utilizing a fun, avant-garde set design by Christopher Bocchiaro and Matthew Woods, imaginary creatures adapts Kharms’ experimental black humor with confidence. The theatre group doesn’t let anything like a sketchy plot or a lingering sense of doom from an oppressive government get in the way of a good time. Continue reading

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Sep 08

“Sweeney Todd” Delights in Dire Tragedy

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Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper. Photo by Mark S. Howard

Photo by Mark S. Howard. Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper.

Presented by the Lyric Stage of Boston
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed & Staged by Spiro Veloudos
Music Director, Jonathan Goldberg

Sept. 5 – Oct. 11, 2014
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
Lyric on Facebook

Review Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) In today’s entertainment landscape, probably the most surprising thing about The Lyric Stage’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is how un-sexy it makes murder. No, grisly death probably shouldn’t be attractive as a rule, but television shows like Hannibal and Dexter and even some thriller novels give serial killers a stylized warmth. Blood is splashed artfully over plastic tarps and cannibalized flesh is prepared with exquisite attention to detail for unsuspecting dinner guests. Stephen Sondheim’s infamous musical gives us only Sweeney Todd’s icy vengeance, spinning more out of control with every throat he slits in his barber’s chair, and Mrs. Lovett’s questionable baking skills. Continue reading

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Aug 12

Actresses Define an Era in “Playhouse Creatures”

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Andrew San Photography

Andrew San Photography

Presented by Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company
By April DeAngelis
Directed by Anna Trachtman

August 1 – 17, 2014
The Factory Theatre
Boston, MA
Maiden Phoenix on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company puts on the sort of historical play I love. Playhouse Creatures looks at the Restoration Era with new eyes, examining the lives of actors Mary Betteron (Christine Power), Ms. Marshall (Janelle Mills), Nell Gwyn (Emily White), and Ms. Farley (Emma Goodman) as they take to the English stage once women are lawfully allowed to act again. Their agendas diverge wildly: they do it for money, fame, or unbridled joy. Regardless, the show is a delicious exploration of what women looking to make art do when faced with a patriarchal society. Continue reading

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Aug 04

“Translations” and Tribulations

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Credit: Paul Cantillon, Lidecphoto.com

Presented by Bad Habit Productions
by Brian Friel
directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

August 2-17, 2014
Boston Center for the Arts
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston, MA
Bad Habit on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Cultural erasure and the silencing power of colonialism—Translations is not a play that minces words. It’s a tragedy of linguistics. During the 19th century, the English army seeks to map out the Irish countryside, specifically the town of Baile Beag. In order to have unified names for the maps they draw, the soldiers end up Anglicizing the Gaelic names of rivers, roads, and mountain ridges. Staged by Bad Habit Productions, this play rages at the disappearance of local tradition in the name of Imperialism. Continue reading

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Jul 23

Hub Theatre’s Shakespeare Crowd-Pleaser: “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”

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Picture

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
Directed by Lauren Elias

July 18 – August 2, 2014
Club Café
209 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) The working hypothesis for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) appears to be this: when at his most serious, the Bard is the most unintentionally hilarious. It’s darkly comic, in a way, that a pair of lovers would die passionately together despite knowing each other for a few days. And there’s something ridiculous about a prince putting off the assassination of the uncle who stole his crown because he doesn’t believe the ghost of his father. In Hub Theatre Company’s take on the parody, Patrick Curran, Adam Lauver (alternating with Will Moore), and Brooks Reeves seek to both compress and skewer Shakespeare’s body of work. Continue reading

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Jun 16

Dancing Wilde(ly) with Boston Actors Theater

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Photo from BAT facebook page

Presented by Boston Actors Theater
Adapted by Elizabeth DuPré and Nicole Howard
Directed and Choreographed by Danielle Lucas

Playing June 13th – June 28th
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Boston, MA
BAT on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

One of the very best and worst things about Oscar Wilde is that his reputation proceeds him. His piercing one-liners and scathing insults are quoted extensively in speeches, jokes, and birthday cards. Wilde’s private life is largely viewed as decadent, however factual that is. Because of this, it’s surprising that the fairy tales he wrote during his career, in sharp contrast to his perceived debauchery, are syrupy and Victorian. Boston Actors Theater attempts to marry the brevity and wit of Wilde’s legacy with the softer side of his stories for children and the result, while enthusiastic, is uneasy. Continue reading

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Jun 09

War Wounds and “Widows”: Ariel Dorfman Reading

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Presented by Flat Earth Theatre and Open Theatre Project
By Ariel Dorfman
Directed by Lindsay Eagle

Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 8PM
The Democracy Center
45 Mt Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook
OTP on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) In one of Widows most wrenching scenes, Fidelia Fuentes (Mariagrazia LaFauci) struggles to figure out how to tell the story of her father’s disappearance. She starts by talking about a bird, then starts again by describing how soldiers kicked down the front door, and then talks about flying. The narrative spins and, it seems, so does she. With each false start, Fidelia tries to find the language that will successfully communicate her anxiety. She can’t, however, certainly not within a country under a lethal dictatorship. Her narrative has been compromised. Continue reading

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Jun 02

“The Trouble with Tribbles” Seeks Out New Life in Classic Star Trek Episode

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The Trouble with Tribbles
Presented by PMRP
Episode written by David Gerrold
Adapted and directed by Mindy Klenoff

 

Foley by Brad Smith

May 29 – 31, 2014
Unity Somerville
6 William St.
Somerville, MA
PMRP onFacebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Somerville) In her guest of honor speech at feminist sci-fi convention Wiscon, author N.K. Jemisin addressed the current social changes in the genre.  Prominent fans and writers in recent years have worked to promote more diverse stories in a field that most have believed to be largely dominated by white, heterosexual men.  “Go to sources of additional knowledge for fresh ammunition–” she advises those interested in broadening sci-fi and fantasy “–histories and analyses of the genre by people who see beyond the status quo, our genre elders, new sources of knowledge like ‘revisionist’ scholarship instead of the bullshit we all learned in school.” In this vein, The Post-Meridian Radio Players’ gender-swapped adaptation of The Trouble with Tribbles is not just a cute comedy but a revisionist take on one of sci-fi culture’s most beloved touchstones. Continue reading

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